Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

With Suicide on Her Mind, She Prayed . . .

One of the more stalwart members of the Church I have met surprised me with the story of his conversion recently. He told me that before he and his wife joined the Church over 30 years ago, they were party animals, living a life that brought a lot of pain. One day, his wife told him that she did not want to commit suicide, but said, "I just want this to end" - referring, I think, to the lifestyle and the situation they were in. Desperate, she tried God. She knelt down and prayed for help. Within one hour, the missionaries were there at the door. When one of them said that they were there with a message from Jesus Christ for her, she yanked them inside the house and had them teach her.

A really remarkable thing is the experience that the two missionaries had in finding that home. They had felt moved to try a different area that day and were riding their bikes down the street where the woman and her husband lived. They were trying to go by the Spirit to find a place to work at that moment. They were not planning to work on that street, but as they were riding, one elder said it was as if the brakes of the bike jammed themselves in front of that home. They knew that they needed to knock on that specific door, one home out of about 50 on the street. One home out of 50 - talk about pinpoint precision. I am often touched by the kindness of the Lord in hearing the prayers of those who seek Him, though sometimes His children need to wait a little more than an hour. Thanks goodness those missionaries were also seeking His will and were there to be instruments in the Lords hands.

She was hungry for the Gospel. But the missionaries were worried about the husband. After five discussions, they had not yet challenged them to baptism. The husband knew that they needed to be asked to be baptized. On the fifth discussion, he challenged the elders: "What's the holdup? When are you going to ask us to be baptized?" They explained that they had been afraid to ask him that and thought he would object. No, he was ready. Good reminder on being bold in inviting them to come unto Christ.

It's been over 30 years since they joined, and they continue inspiring and helping others to this day, in spite of the many challenges life throws our way.

Those experiences resonate with some of mine from my mission in Switzerland. The conversion story that touched me most deeply was that of a beautiful Swiss girl who also had contemplated suicide after feeling overwhelmed with the emptiness in her life. After finding her minister cared nothing for her needs, she prayed, and within hours the missionaries were there.

Wherever you are in life, don't forget to pray. God is there and has ways to help. For many people, the help they need most (and sometimes want least) may well come in the form of a knock at the door from two young representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bringing a message that I truly believe is from Jesus Christ.

18 comments:

danithew said...

I love stories like this. I believe this kind of thing happens from time to time in the lives of people who are open to the Spirit. Thanks for writing it up.

Anonymous said...

I wish someone had been praying recently when the poor little girl in SLC Utah was abducted and murdered.

mawcawn said...

People were praying when that child was abducted and murdered. One of the things I was praying for was that if something had happened to her that she would be found. As bad as it was and is, it would have been worse to not know.

Anonymous@4:16, you seem very bitter about prayers not answered instead of rejoicing in prayers answered. Letting go of "Why not me?" "Why not that problem?" "Aren't we children of God, too?" without deciding there is no God or that he doen't really care, requires faith.

You need to believe that He sees the complete picture and trust or you will be unable to see the joys and miracles that are part of everyday life.

I was a suicidal teenager who had a meeting set up with the local witch (no I don't mean Wicca) when two missionares came to my history class to talk about the trek from Illinois to Utah. They passed around a sign up sheet for those who wanted more information. I signed it and they were on my couch when I got home. The gospel literally saved my life. Without it, my depression and self destructive behavior would have won.

Not every prayer has been answered the way I might have wished, but I trust that they have been anwered and I take joy from the joys of others.

Helaman said...

People seem to want the answers they want. The Lord works on an entirely different level then this. He answers, with what is right for that person according to His wisdom, in the time that is right for that person.
How could any one even think that no one had been praying for that little girl - I happen to know two little boys who prayed for her and were rather upset at the whole thing till they found her - they happened to be my little boys. But I also took the oppurtunity to explain to them how prayers work. I'd be willing to be, that the parents were praying too. Now for someone to infer that no one was praying is liken to a kick in the face to those parents, to my boys and to all those who were praying.
How does anyone know the wisdom in the Lord with the outcome of this? Do you presume to know the mind of the Lord on this matter? Are you that pompous?
I've come to learn and to try to find what I'm suppose to learn during my trials - while, I may not have had a child of mine taken from me, I have had siblings and numerous friends taken before what I thought was their time. I take comfort in the Lord's wisdom, not in the arm of flesh - you might try the same.

Anonymous said...

I am not bitter about prayers being answered. I am embarassed when people talk of inconsequential "miracles" when others are in the middle of tragedy.

For instance-----A friend recently lost an 8 year old daughter to drowning. I hope he would not come to sacrament meeting and hear about people who prayed and found their lost dish rag.

dion said...

It's a big world and with a million readers, comes a million perspectives and background experiences. I have the greatest empathy for any pain that you and any others feel at any point in time. It would be horrible and naive to think that a little feelgood story would service your anger and sadness. However, I am hurt by your presumption that my prayers regarding the suffering of that girl were ineffective or somehow lost unheard. Who are you to make so litte of the anguish of my soul?

It is times like this that I remember the first and most precious gift that the Lord has given us. The one that we so freely abuse: our agency. From Adam on, we have been granted agency, with which we can choose right or wrong. The person responsible for the abduction chose to cause tremendous pain and anquish. God hates to see his children in pain and I have no doubt helped to guide a course of events that would be the best for all concerned.

From this, two thoughts come to mind. Was there someone who was in a position to help that did not listen to or recognize the promptings of the spirit? Will some good come from the adversity? In both cases I pray that I personally am worthy to receive and ready to respond to promptings to act.

Knowing Christ's love for his children, I believe strongly that the suffering of that girl was as short as possible, and that her soul was comforted as she was received into His arms.

Naive... maybe, but I can't presume to know the details of the plan. I simply have faith that there is one. The trials in life are ultimately more fair then one can imagine.

Dion

Anonymous said...

The Jewish children suffered long and hard in the concentration camps.

Many children in the USA are underfed and abused. Yet at Fast and Testimony meeting all is well when a flat tire is fixed.

Maybe the problem is Fast and Testimony meeting.

dion said...

It seems foolish to dismiss the individual blessings in someone's life just because the world continues to have bigger struggles. We do have a personal relationship with our Lord, and He will bless our specific needs based on our faith. Fast and testimony meeting is not just a happy meeting where we tell about our cookie and cool-aid testimony experiences. The fast offering precedes the promised blessings. "The one who consecrates his fast by a generous offering is in fact providing food, clothing, and shelter for the poor and is sanctified by his sacrifice." (Victor L. Brown, “A Vision of the Law of the Fast,” Ensign, Nov. 1977)

But I'll concede that you are right to call all to repentance. We are too often trivial minded. We must continually use all of our time, talents, and resources to help those in need. As long as someone in the world suffers our hearts, minds, and hands should reach out to them. I will caution you against blaming the troubles in this world on what you believe to be the deficit of faithful outreach.

Dion

Anonymous said...

I think we need training and counsel regarding the talk of prayers answered, miracles. In another posting Bishop Rick speaks of passing a litmus test.

While in the Bishopric I invited the Mission President and his wife to speak. She told a faith promoting story. A few months later it was exposed as a hoax. My Bishop----kind of a guy like Mormanity cautioned that all should stick to the scriptures and the conference talks in Sacrament.

dion said...

It's unbelievable to me that a mission president's wife would feel so pressured to have a personal spiritual experience to relate that she would fabricate one. I'm in awe, but then I'm reminded of Paul Dunn. I spent hours listening to those tapes growing up.

Dion

Mormanity said...

No, she didn't fabric anything. She relayed a faith-promoting story that she got by email or some other route. If i recall correctly, it was a story about a guy who studied Japanese and had a blessing that he would teach people in that language on his mission, but he got a call to South America and was disappointed - until one day he ran into a large complex of Japanese workers there, who were thrilled to hear the Gospel in their native tongue. Great story - but I was suspicious when I heard it and later learned from some fellow apologists that it was an apparent hoax.

On the other hand, there have been stories I dismissed as being too wild that later were given credibility from witnesses, like the story of a German female scholar of Christianity who was amazed by the plain message of the Restoration, etc.

dion said...

My bad. I assumed incorrectly from your statement. It is sad that somebody felt it necessary to make up such a story.

Dion

Bishop Rick said...

I don't want to put words into Anon's mouth (or keyboard) but I don't think he/she is dismissing anyone's prayer efforts or suggesting that no one prayed for the little girl.

I think the point here is that prayer would have been much better served by saving that little girl than the inconsequential miracles we so often hear about.

This is exactly my point, when I say (in my oppinion) that prayer is not answered or acted upon.

Someone mentioned that we cannot know what God has in store for us (implying for the little girl as well) and that what we want the answers to be is not necessarily what God has planned.

I tell you what...any god that has a plan for a little girl to be murdered, raped, and defiled disgusts me, and anyone that can reconcile that needs to re-examine that thought process.

These type of stories (the faith promoting ones) do make you feel good, but the simple truth (IMO) is that they are coincidental.

I just can't believe that the 95% of the people who's prayers are not answered is due to them not being open to the spirit, or because they have not recieved the GOTHG. Just doesn't make sense that this high of a percentage don't qualify.

Suicide is a HUGE problem in UT as well as other states. So I guess those that prayed and did not get their prayer answered were not open to the spirit, and that is why they pulled the trigger.

Hillary said...

There is a huge difference between prayers not being answered and prayers being answered in a way we don't expect.

I lost two of my four pregnancies to miscarriage, and there was nothing in the Gospel, nothing in the scriptures, nothing in General Conference talks to help me. The opinions of others only made matters worse, especially when I lost the first baby.

Rest assured, even when prayers for intervention are answered "no," God never leaves us comfortless. He still answered my prayers, but not with a healthy baby. During the time after I lost my first baby, I also struggled with several bouts of depression, and God can even reach through that devestating disease, but it was the words and hugs of fallible mortals that gave me God's comfort then. I found my answers, but it was a years-long struggle. Sometimes Sunday talks and testimonies helped, sometimes they were counter-productive, but I was only one person in the congregation of several hundred.

The miracle isn't that God tinkers with human fate. The miracle is that He deigns to let such imperfect people perform his work, and that He lets us botch it sometimes.

What happened to Destiny Norton (the "little girl" referred to earlier) was horrific, but if one believes that Jesus Christ suffered everything Destiny Norton did, and everything the children in concentration camps suffered, and every pain and suffering experienced by every human being who ever lived, then His permitting evil to exist isn't so uncaring or inappropriate. He's already gone through it. He felt what Destiny felt, he felt what the father of the drowned girl feels, He burned with the Jews - young and old - in Auswitz. If He endured all this suffering and still feels it better to not intervene, who am I to get my nose out of joint? Especially when He assures us His grace is suffficient to negate or compensate for all these horrible things, how can I pretend to pass judgment on God? If he suffered not only my actual pain, but also any potential pain I might have endured (as in "infinite atonement"), how can I *not* trust Him?

God's plan does allow for bad things to happen. That's why He also planned for a Savior. Were it not for the Atonement, Crucifixion and Resurrection, I would agree with you, Bishop Rick, but in light of those acts on the part of Jesus Christ, the logic is sound.

(Oh, and suicide rates are lower than the national average among *active* LDS young men in Utah. Not everyone who commits suicide is evil or possessed or closed to the Spirit. But being deeply religious *does* help.)

Anonymous said...

In my experience Heavenly Father seems a lot more able to answer prayers that don't involve violating the free agency of others. I don't think He WANTS people to be murdered or abused - and if everyone lived the way He wanted us to then 'the plan' would be very different. However, on earth we are at the mercy of our own and others' free agency and if Heavenly Father violated that free agency then he would be less of a God and more of a dictator.

We all need to prove to ourselves as well as to God what inheritance we deserve in the eternities and that can only be done through our deeds. It's not a good idea for God to stop every evil deed before it happens because there's little point in being on earth if there is no opportunity for the lower-telestially inclined to prove that is where they belong.

Having said that I really, really wish all child abusers and sadistic murderers etc were dead. And so I marvel at the great self-control of God who has to witness what I fortunately do not. If I am angered to the core by their repulsive deeds then I am sure that Heavenly Father is even more than me.

Thankfully, through Jesus' atonement there will be justice and peace eventually. Unfortunately we have to be patient until then.

Anonymous said...

My wife had a very similar experience... she had been accused of stealing 50 bucks from her job and they were giving her the lie detector test... she prayed to god... "you know I didn't do it god... so... if you help me pass this test , show me the true church and I will join it..." she passed the test and that night me & my companion had just been stood up for the third night in a row by a lady we were teaching... my companion said (not wanting to go home early) well... how about we knock this door right here and if someone answeres we'll teach them... ) we knocked and she answered ... we committed her to baptism right then and there...

Nathan said...

Anon 3:59 pm,

If your wife didn't steal the money, then why was she worried about passing the lie detector test?

Alphy said...

@Nathan,

It's very healthy to worry about whether or not you will be passing a lie detector test: these tests are pseudo-scientific. It is easy to be found a "liar" when you were honest, but nervous, and be found "honest" just because you were lying, but could do so without being nervous.